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CLASSES

A weekly Balboa class (on a Monday as the name would suggest!) at 8.30pm at the Rising Sun Arts Centre, 30 Silver Street in Reading with social dancing in between classes. Doors open 8.30pm, venue has parking and is within a short walk of Reading Station - map at http://goo.gl/maps/20ZGZ. If you cannot park at the venue then there is plenty of on-street parking a few minutes walk away on London Street which is free after 8pm, or for a slightly longer walk, free parking can also be found on Kendrick Road.

We run two classes each Monday, one suitable for beginners and one for improver/intermediate dancers.

20:30 - doors open, warm up dancing to start fundamentals class. Suitable for both beginners and those with more experience, this class has a 6 week structure that aims to teach you all of the main Balboa figures as well as ample technique and styling to get you social dancing as well as playing with moves and rhythms. However each 6 week rotation teaches different concepts, so improver dancers will continue to benefit from the classes.

21:20 - social dancing

21:30 - improver/intermediate class, suitable for those who have done 3-4 fundamentals courses as we will expect everyone to have a good set of strong fundamentals from the beginner classes.

The cost of the evening is £5 - improver dancers are strongly encouraged to attend the beginner fundamentals class (you pay the same so why not!) and this will also act as a great time to focus on the fundamentals of the techniques we will then build on in the second class.

What do I need to know to join your class?

For the Fundamentals class you need to know nothing other than you want to come and learn to dance. Our six week courses will give you everythng you need to get you up and running on the dance floor. However if you are a complete beginner please only join a new rotation in weeks 1 or 2 as after this we'll be pushing on and will expect you to have mastered the basic footwork by week 3 and so joining then is not suitable for new dancers.

What is Balboa?

Glad you asked that question!

Balboa is a partnered dance which evolved in the 1920s and 1930s at the same time (just on the opposite side of America) to lindy hop. The dance evolved to allow the kids of the day to dance to the excellent live bands playing fabulous swing music. Balboa as we know it today is actually an amalgamation of a dance called balboa in close hold (which today we call "pure bal") and a more open-hold dance with kicks and turns which was, in the day, simply called swing (which today we call "bal-swing"). No one is quite sure of the exact timeline, but it is though that at some point the balboa dancers and the swing dancers met up, liked each other's styles and ended up nicking bits and bringing it into their own dancing and thus balboa as we know it today was born - however it should be said that evidence for this course of events (other than the fact that is must have happened because of the dance we call balboa today exists) is somewhat lacking. It should also be remembered that balboa was a street dance - it evolved as the kids danced together, played around with moves, nicked bits from each other and developed their own distinct styles within the genre of the same dance, it was never written down or codified. Now this is great as it means it is a lovely organic dance, but equally no records of how it was danced exist other than some grainy promotional footage for an event (famously known as The Venice Beach Clip).

 

However, World War II meant the free and easy days of the dancing kids ended, many married, moved away, got serious jobs, life happened. Then in the 1980s one of the original dancers, Marge Talkier would arrange regular dances at a restaurant in Southern California called Bobby McGees to which all the local dancers from back-in-the-day would turn up. Thanks to the camcorder many of these dances were filmed and today professional and amateur dancer alike pour over these to try and work out how the dance is being created. A small number of people were also very fortunate to have taken lessons and danced with the original dancer and now travel the world passing on this knowledge to ensure this lovely dance which so nearly died once is revived and carries on. Here in Reading we are very lucky to have All Jazzed Up who regularly invite these luminaries of dance over, once you start your journey with this lovely dance with Balboa Mondays you will be strongly encouraged to attend these events to keep your balboa developing and enhanced by such high-level instruction.

 

This is a very brief overview of this dance we call balboa. If you are interested in find out more please read Bobby White's brilliant whistle-stop tour of the history of balboa and Dan Guest's more detailed history which also includes details on the original ballrooms where balboa was danced.

What should I wear to dance balboa?

If you are coming to classes you should wear something you feel comfortable in and are able to move freely. Due to the close partnered nature of this dance, we ask that both ladies and gents please do not wear open-backed tops.

In terms of shoes, you should wear something with a slippy sole (ideally slick leather) and which will not come off your feet whilst you are dancing. For Follows dancing in heels is often the norm, but you can absolutely dance balboa in flat shoes so please wear something you will feel comfortable in for a class.